Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas! FELIZ NAVIDAD! (24 December 2014)

Sorry for the lack of an email last week. Last week I was sick and didn't have the energy to write an email. Elder Nelson ended up catching the stomach flu and was throwing up a lot a couple of weeks ago. Well, last week somehow I got it as well and was throwing up all night and day Wednesday. Then my companion got it and then he was throwing up. And then just when we thought everything was good, Elder Nelson somehow got it again and was throwing up the entire next day. We call it the Yonkers Plague. Nobody can figure out why so many people get sick here. Haha. Now we are all alive and well, so do not worry. Being sick is no fun.

Brandon: It has been an interesting ride with Brandon. Last time we talked, he was doing great. Things have happened since then. Veronica (his girlfriend in the church) broke up with him because she was going on a mission, and also his friends have been telling him that ever since he has been meeting with us, he has been changing into to "soft" person and they want the old tough Brandon back. Over the last few weeks, each time we meet with him, he gives us less and less time. It's at a point now where he cancels the lessons. We will see what happens. It is just sad to see someone lose the eternal blessings of the gospel because he cares more about what others think. I wish he could have more of an eternal perspective. It doesn't matter what man thinks, if you know you are living your life doing what God asks of you. Living according to what God asks of us is ultimately the right thing to do, and you feel that in your heart. Because you feel that, you never have to justify your actions because you already know they are right and correct. I wish he could see this. Anyway, we are praying for him and hoping he does choose to come back and continue to change. He knows the gospel is true, he sees how it has been changing his life, yet because he is afraid of what others think, he is choosing to deny himself those wonderful blessings, and not accept it. He has so much potential. If only he could see that in himself. Then again, I'm sure this is just how God feels about us as well.

Roy: Roy is such an amazing one! I am a little confused at times with him. He opened up to us and told us some things that happened to him, and because of those things, it is as if he is stuck mentally at the age those things took place in his life. Sometimes it is hard to communicate with him, because it's as if we are talking to a little kid in very large man's body. He keeps telling us of new kids he is finding out he had, and he is constantly losing and obtaining new jobs. Over the past cycle it has been difficult meeting with him, but we met with him twice this week, and plan to do so in the following weeks. Yesterday we had a great lesson with him. We taught about the priesthood, temples, and eternal families, and we asked him how bad he was willing to work to get there one day. He said he really wants it, and he feels like each time he prays and asks God if these things are true, that he gets the feeling and the direct words in his head that say "you already know this is true, you already know what you have to do." It's so amazing to hear that, but he needs a little push. He doesn't commit very well to things, but he told us yesterday that there is just something inside of him telling him to go through with it. If only people could see the worth of the gospel in their lives! His baptism date was December 21st, but unfortunately, we had to cancel the date and move it back because we didn't feel as if he was ready to make that step yet. 

We have been doing a lot of less active look-ups and a lot of tracting. We have spent most of our time in the bad areas because that is where all the hispanic people are. Even though we spend every day in those areas, each day it surprises me how bad some of these people live. It is sad. Apparently, everyone who comes over to America from these Latin countries automatically thinks New York City is the place to go, but they can't afford it, so outside the city is the "next best place" and they end up here all in tight quarters. They don't understand that there are a lot better and cheaper places to live in America. I have grown to love some of the people here, and I just wish I could take them out of their situations here and show them how good life can be. 

We have these events called APF's where we get together with all the missionaries in our zone and do an area proselyting event. For example, our last event we went caroling, handed out free hot chocolate, gave away wrapped scriptures, and during that talked to all the people who came through. We do one every week. Well last week during our APF, I was on a split with Elder Hincapie, and we ran into an elderly lady who was picking up her leaves. We ran over to her and asked her if we could help her and she said she didn't need help, but we didn't listen and started to help her anyways. We got talking with her and chatted with her for about 20 minutes. We ended up showing her He Is the Gift, and let her meet the sister missionaries. They then talked with her for a while, and now they are teaching her! It was a tender miracle to see. 

I love our Zone. Every day we grow closer and they are all like my brothers and sisters now! You get to meet and make so many amazing friends on the mission. Tonight we are going over to one of our favorite family’s house for Christmas Eve, and tomorrow is Christmas! I hope you all have a great week. I am going to the city today, and we are going to go to the Rockefeller Center and Times Square and a few other places. It should be pretty packed on Christmas Eve. We shall see. I'm very excited. It is always so fun going to the city because you see so many new things in such a little amount of time. South Manhattan is a very live place. I love it. 

Have a fantastic week and a wonderful Christmas. Remember as you are opening your presents tomorrow, who really is the gift. :)

With love,

Elder Celaya

Picture (24 December 2014)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One Week Until Christmas! (17 December 2014)

These are the missionaries who were in my district in the MTC. We had a chance to meet up this week for a Christmas devotional and got to see each other again. Have a good week. Never give up. 

D&C 123:17. This scripture has been my favorite this week. Super good. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cali boy in snow in shorts and a tee (10 December 2014)

Hello my people back home!

I am going to start off with something funny that happened today. So we went into a city called White Plains today. It's like a mini NYC, and it is snowing pretty hard here right now. Well, I decided to go in shorts and a t-shirt, while everyone else walking on the streets was dressed up in warm snow coats, beanies, ear muffs, and boots. Haha. Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy. We went to Chipotle for lunch and I got a drink with ice. As we were walking back to our car, we had to get into an elevator to get to our car. There was this lady who looked at me for about 10 seconds as I was eating my ice cubes in the freezing weather with my summer clothing, and in her big old southern accent, she was like "Boy are ya tellin' me ya eatin' ice out in this weatha?! And Boy! How come ya ain't got no clothes on? Ohh my gosh hunny, ya poor thang. Hunny ya better go get yaself some clothes." I told her I was from southern california and she even freaked out more. She was like "ahh yo mamma ain't gunna be happy about this one. You ain't know about this weatha!" Haha as we walked out of the elevator I told her I was going to go buy some real winter clothes. Haha. It was hilarious.

- This week I have been exercising a lot lately. I created a complete exercise plan that I am going to do for the rest of my mission. It is extremely hard to stay fit on a mission, but I am being diligent in doing so. I love exercising and I truly do miss it.

- I really do not like our church ward. Our Bishop is something else. This is the first time in my life that I really am scared to go to church. So many things go down and you leave feeling horrible. They just don't understand how the gospel is supposed to be lived. I wish I could tell you what is going on, but I really don't think I am allowed.

- This week we went over to a member’s house who is from puerto rico. He moved to the bronx when he was 3, then at age 17, moved to Georgia and stayed there for 40 years. He got married, had a wife and kids, and his wife unexpectantly died. Turns out, last year, he needed a kidney transplant, but he had to come here (to Yonkers) to get it. There was this lady he met (she is a member in the church), and she invited him to come and participate on Sunday. He did, and last April he ended up getting baptized. He is now going to move back to Georgia with his new wife, and his found faith as a new happy man. It's amazing how God truly does work in ways we could never imagine. I think a lot of the things we go through that seem endless only seem that way because we can't see the full picture. God can, and when we trust Him (which can be super hard sometimes), it always works out better than we could ever imagine. Anyways, before they move, he is going to invite us over and make us some crazy southern food. He said he is going to go all out, and I am extremely excited. I am so tired of rice, chicken, and plantains.

- My companion. He is by far the most negative person I have ever met. We have gotten in a lot of fights over the last week. Last Friday I couldn't take it anymore, so I talked to my district leader, Elder Palmer. He gave me something to read that I have been reading every day that has really been helping me. I am learning how to fix the things I need to fix in myself before I ever lose my temper with him. I think he may have really bad home sickness problems and the only way he can keep his mind off of home is if he is always doing something. He panics if he isn't. When he is with others, he is very nice, but when we are alone, he turns into a completely different person. Today I was talking about how Yonkers has taught me how to have patience. He then told me that I was wrong, and that it hasn't taught me patience, but that was just my excuse for not working hard. A lot of fights have been going down and I really am trying to learn how to get through this. Something I have found that works is just do whatever he tells me to do. That way he always gets his way, and I don't have to fight with him. This has been extremely hard for me. Lucky, I most likely only have three more weeks with him and then I am out of YONKERS! We will see.

- Elder Nelson (the elder in our appt. who we live with) has been such a blessing to me. He has taught me how to truly be myself as a missionary. There have been days where I just wanted to give up, and it's because of him that I have not. There has been some crazy stuff that we have both been dealing with and I am glad we have each other to keep ourselves happy and to keep on going. I am going to miss him when I leave Yonkers.

- Roy. This week we taught him again, and we were able to have a member come with us to the lesson. We are going to move his baptism date back a week to better prepare him. My companion wants to drop him because he thinks he is not a good investigator. He wants to drop Brandon too. I don't really understand why. They have never told us no, and they keep their commitments, so I think we should at least give them the chance. I feel bad for my companion. I don't know why he is so miserable inside. Anyways, we met with Brandon and Roy, and they are both progressing. Roy only has two more lessons until baptism.

- This mission here in NY, is absolutely everything I never expected a mission to be. I want to paint a picture of what it is like here if I can. You wake up to people yelling and cursing as you hear the subway trains honking their horns across the way, or you wake up to gun shots. You shower in a tiny little shower (with hot water thankfully), then studies, then after that, you eat. After we eat we go and get into our car. As we drive people honk all the time for absolutely no reason. You get outside of the car and park in some crowded area. You look around to make sure you are safe. You get out of the car, and get on the sidewalk and as you walk, you pass rundown apartment buildings and tiny little delis. In between the apartment and delis are tiny little alleyways where there are people doing and dealing drugs. You pass by, hoping nobody wants to mess with you. As you walk down the street, you see and hear people yelling and screaming/cursing at each other. In the middle of that, homeless drugged people come up to you screaming some random name, asking you for money. As you walk through the buildings to try to find the person you are trying to find, you walk up to the apartment. Usually you can never get in because all of them have call boxes. Most people tell us to come over, but they know we can't get in because there is a call box. They don't tell you that they don't want to meet with you. They just say come over and once you do, they don't answer. Most of the time, you can’t get into the apartments. But, if you do, you go in and as you look around, it looks like a homeless compound where they keep people to keep them out of other places. You walk up tiny creaking stairs, and on each floor there are around 5-10 doors, and as you walk by each, you may hear screaming, the tv, but you always smell weed. These places are nothing like I have ever seen in my life. Sometimes you may walk by someone who is on drugs, and they don't like that you are there, or that you said hi to them, and they start yelling at you and threatening you. Racism is alive here. You open the door, and it's a very good chance the people who open the door will be completely naked. They do not care at all that they aren't wearing anything. They ask you who you are and we tell them, and most of the time they are extremely rude and threaten us. As the door slams in our face, we walk back down the stairs, hoping the guy who was yelling at us doesn't bother us. We walk briskly outside and onto the next place. These people here are INSANE! I wish I could describe it. I honestly cannot believe this is in America. It's sad to see. Basically these places are projects run by the government, who basically give these tiny places away to people who can't afford to live in America. They are supposed to help them off their feet to help them get moving in America, but most of them stay and smooch off the government. They get into drugs, and gangs. Then as time goes on, they either end up in jail, dead, or if they are lucky, their brains end up fried and they roam the streets. Everyone is trapped in this. It is a large pool that once you get stuck in it, you can't get out. This just isn't a normal society. I feel extremely out of place here. I am very surprised they send missionaries here. Most of these people seem way too far gone. But, it is our job to find those that are still human and left here just waiting to change their lives.

- A mission is 100 times harder than I thought it would be. I have never done anything this difficult in my life. But yesterday I was fortunate to go on a split with an Elder named Elder Hincapie. He is a very positive fun guy to be around. He has been out for 16 months and he has taught me that the harder the area is, the more you learn. 90 percent of the time, life is miserable. 10 percent of the time, life is absolutely amazing. It's during those 10 percent times that it makes it all worth it. It's during those times you say to yourself, "I wouldn't rather be anywhere in the world" as you see these people who have struggled all their life begin to change. You see a new light in them, and you see it in yourself. - That is what makes it worth it. You learn so much on a mission you could never learn anywhere else.

There have been things we have been dealing with here that no 20 year old kid should ever have to deal with. Members calling us up telling us things extremely serious, and us trying to put the situation in the right hands so they can deal with it fast, before these people kill others. I can't say much about the things we have been dealing with, but sometimes they are mind boggling for me. We are just 20 year old kids, trying to talk people out of killing others when they are furious with them. Life is crazy sometimes.

I'm sure many of you have seen the video entitled "He Is the Gift." This year it is a very big thing the Church has put out and our mission is the central point to it. We have had meetings with president about it, and also the big billboard in Time's Square is the 
He Is the Gift poster. It was on the front page of YouTube a couple of days ago. I would love to show it to you this Christmas season. It really has inspired me to understand what Christmas is and how I can discover what possibilities open up when I discover who the Gift is and what the gift has done for me.

- Elder Celaya

Pics (10 December 2014)

Elder Segura's dad came and visited us this week, and he was an
awesome guy! Reminds me of Robin Williams.

with Elder Segura

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Great Lessons Learned In Life =) (3 December 2014)

Greetings from the beloved city of New York! 

Time is starting to really fly by on the mission. At first it was going very slow, but now it has sped up more than it ever has in my life. Time completely feels different when you are on a mission. It's almost like, because you are forgetting yourself, you don't worry about time as much, and so you forget it. Time leaves the mind and the mission has felt like a really long day. Like I said, I feel like I am in a dream, and the day I fly back to LA will be the day that I wake up. It is very weird. None of this feels real.

I want to start off with something that is very interesting. We teach every kind of hispanic culture. We talk to people from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and I have yet to have Hispanic food like I have had in California. You can't beat it. We eat dominican food a lot and their special dish is Plantains that are fried. The common meal here is Chicken, Rice, and Plantains. Most of the time the chicken is not cooked. Last week, our church had a Thanksgiving party, and we all ate chicken that was pink and wasn't cooked all the way. We got home and all of us spent the night throwing up. We took turns who got the bathroom for throwing up. Nasty right? Haha it gave us a good laugh though. Thank goodness that's over!

My new companion is very interesting. He speaks great Spanish. He is from Madrid in Spain and has grown up there so he speaks really well, which is nice, because I can now really learn from him. He speaks english pretty well, but his accent is horrible. He even says it is. Haha. It's nice because he is bold and just get things done, but this week I have been struggling. Whenever he wants to do something, he says to me "ok this is what we are going to do...this is what YOU are going to do".... he doesn't let me suggest anything. If I don't understand his idea and even begin to question it, he pulls out a quote, and starts to chastise me saying I am breaking the rules. This whole week, whenever I have done something that he doesn't agree with, he writes it down on his Ipad. There are some other things going on between him and the companions we are living with, but I won't mention them. I just know that this cycle (6 weeks) is going to be extremely difficult. He and I do not get along when we are doing missionary work. When we are doing anything else, we are fine, but mostly all you do on a mission is related to missionary work.

I am struggling with him. He even told me he would be my hardest companion. Maybe it's just the culture, but that still is not an excuse. He is overly bold with people and extremely negative and uses the rules to condemn you rather than to inspire and uplift you (the reason we have them in the first place). I don't know what to do, but I think for now, I am going to try my best to just do whatever he says and try to go with the flow. Hopefully I will learn something from him. He works very hard, which is something I really do like about him.

He has served in Newburgh (the highest murder rate in the entire nation) and in Harlem. He says Yonkers is by far more depressing and scary than in either places. That makes me feel good! Haha. That means wherever I go from here will be great!

Sister and Elder Wilson are the senior couples who live in our apartment building and we went up the other day to ask them a question and we started talking and turns out their son served in Compton California during the riots in LA back in the day. I asked him how he liked it and they said it was not a good experience at all. There was a member who asked them to help him with some service. For their service they helped him take the dead bodies from the street and "dispose of them." Can you imagine? --as a 19-year-old having to be stuck in Compton during the riots dragging away bodies every day. He was stuck in his apartment for a good 2-3 weeks. I felt really fortunate for serving in Yonkers after hearing that.

I don't have much this week. This has been one of the hardest weeks in my mission because of the challenges I have been dealing with my companion. It really is a good learning experience because when you go on a mission you are assigned with many different companions throughout your mission whether you love them or highly dislike them, and you two have to figure out (with God being at the top of the relationship) how to make it work. You are with them 24/7, day and night, for months at a time. You see a completely different side of people when you are with them that much. Never in my life will I ever have to be with someone for 24/7 every second of the day. It makes you grow up fast. It's great preparation for marriage and learning how to deal with situations. This week I have really been hit with the reality of a mission. It's everything what I didn't expect. It's a lot more real than I ever expected. It's good though because even though these have by far been the hardest days of my life, I am learning so much. It teaches you how to survive with nobody there to help you, with nothing but God by your side. That is literally all I feel like I have at times. The hard times heavily outweigh the great times, but the magnitude of the great times are so much better and completely outweigh the hard times. 

-Elder Celaya

Pics (3 December 2014)

Here are a couple pictures. The first picture is me and my old district. I love this group of people. We are all brothers and sisters. The Elder on the left is Elder Palmer. Out of anyone on the mission thus far, he has helped me the most. He is truly like a brother to me and it's sad because he is going home next cycle, but what I have learned from him can't be measured. 

This second picture is of me pointing at the car outside of our church. Haha. Out in the hood. =) I have seen fights and shootings on that street. The only way I can stay sane is picturing this place as a zoo. I just need to find the people who are still left. Whether that's the right or the wrong way to look at it, I don't know. But I do know that that's the only way I can stay sane sometimes. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

❄️TRANSFERS! ❄️ (in the snow) (26 November 2014)

This week is transfers! I don't really have any time today to write a normal email (transfer days are so long. Especially when you are leaving the area or getting a new companion). I am staying here in Yonkers (most likely 1 more cycle, or six weeks), and Elder Paiz is leaving going to Harlem, living on good old 123rd Lexington ave! That's where all the crazies live. Haha apparently it's a crazy area. I wish him the best. I'm going to miss him. I am getting Elder Segura who is a native speaker from Spain! This is great which means I can really improve my Spanish because I get to learn from someone who knows the most correct Spanish there is. I'm very excited. Today it finally snowed. Welcome to Transfers :) (not the city)

Pics (26 November 2014)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Refiner's Fire (19 November 2014)

Hello my wonderful family and friends :)

This has been a very interesting week to say the least. I feel as if the weeks tend to get more and more interesting as I go throughout my mission. On Thursday we had Zone Conference in Kings Bridge in the Bronx. Basically zone conference is when all the missionaries in the surrounding areas come together for a day, and we are spiritually uplifted throughout the day. There are close to around 60 missionaries there as well as the assistants to the president and president and his wife. It was absolutely great. It was the first one I have been to. It was all day. We had to be in Scarsdale by 7 in the morning which is about 20 minutes away. We then got home around 6 at night. It was a great day and I was able to learn a lot. 

The temperature has been dropping here a lot. It's currently 22 degrees right now and I'm in shorts and a t-shirt freezing. Haha. This morning we ran to the store and I wore shorts and a tee. Meanwhile everyone else is dressed in heavy ski coats and their faces are wrapped with scarves, and there I am in my shorts. Haha. Everyone gave me weird looks. I have clothes don't worry. Although I have clothes I wasn't that smart about washing my clothes the other day. I dried my clothes for 200 minutes because it was a big load and because of that my jeans shrunk. They shrunk so much I can't even fit my legs in the pant legs.  (Mom do you want to send me my grey pants? Haha). Things we learn on missions. -__- oh but mom, don't send them until I email you next week (transfers). I am still waiting for it to snow here. I'm sure it will happen soon though!

I love my zone here (the 20-30 Elders and Sisters I serve with in and around our area). We are all like best friends doing the Lords work. I love every one of these missionaries. They are the cream of the crop kind of people. I will attach a picture of our zone. This week was the first time I have had to say goodbye to a missionary I consider a friend. His name is Elder Garibay and he is from Texas. He has been my zone leader for the entire time I have been here and he finishes his two years of service this Monday. I am going to miss him. I think it’s crazy looking back on my life 6 months to a year ago, and realizing that the life I am living now is completely different -- meaning the friendships I have been able to make here are ones I cherish and I will be great friends with all these people here, but 6 months ago, I had no idea any of these people existed. A mission is awesome for that reason! 

We have been having some extreme issues with our ward and the leadership, but I am not going to say much. It got so bad that the sisters set up a meeting with president to take care of the issue. We had a meeting the other day with president and he said he would help take care of the issue. Just be grateful for the church we have back home. Maybe one day when I am off my mission, I will explain some of the things that have been going on. Nothing too serious, but things that are questionable. All is well though. One thing president told us is the first thing to do in life always is to be the example. We can all be the example and the change we want to see in the world. That got me thinking about my life. There are tons of things that I see people do that frustrate me, but this week I have realized I truly need to fix the things in myself that I want to improve on before I worry about anyone else's issues. Most people know they have things that they can improve on, but often times they are too busy looking at the faults of others. If everyone is always focusing on the faults of others, nobody will ever truly look within and improve. I have learned in order for me to grow and change, I have to humble myself, realize my weaknesses and improve and overcome them, and be the example to others. It is only when we look within that we truly can change ourselves and others. Leading by example is the greatest thing each of us have. This is just something I have been pondering about this week. 

Brandon: Brandon is doing great! He lives in the Bronx, but we get to meet with him because his girlfriend lives in our ward in Yonkers. I love teaching him because he is a mature 19 year old guy who has a very open mind but a heart that's pointed to the goodness of God. 

That is another thing I have been thinking about this week. I have often seen people who say they want to have an open mind, and because of this, they want to try things out in the world. Oftentimes when people have told me this, they use having an open mind as a way to toss out what they truly feel is right or wrong in their heart and they go do what they want, and that's sad to see because it never leads to lasting happiness. All of us start out in life having three things:

1st -- a knowledge of what's right. 2nd -- a knowledge of what's wrong.  And 3rd, we have our desires.

Oftentimes our desires conflict with what we know is right, and we feel that conflict within. It is only when we turn to Christ that we can completely align our desires to what we feel is right in our heart.  Christ has done this perfectly. He perfectly aligned His will to His father’s (God) and this is exactly what God wants of us. To become perfect even as He is. Follow the example of Christ and do as he did. This is why I love teaching Brandon because he has an open mind, but he compares every "open minded" decision to the feeling of right or wrong in his heart. Think about that. That is key! First his heart is pointed to God, which means he listens to his heart. When he knows something is wrong deep down in his heart, he doesn't engage in it. When he knows deep down in his heart that something is right, he follows it and acts on that feeling with all his heart. Because he first has his heart pointed to God, he is able to accurately open his mind to the things of life and truly discover what is true in life and what is not. It's because of this that he is able to get closer to happiness, truth and God. When someone truly has these two things, mixed with the desire to find truth, one will always find what is true. God cannot lie to us. His Spirit is in each of us to let us know what is right and what is wrong. He will never fail us. This is something I have had to learn slowly - how to have an open mind but a heart pointed to God. One could say that if my heart is already pointed to God, then I truly don't have a clear open mind because my mind is already connected to God. But then a problem arises. Whether we believe in God or not, each one of us all has the meter within our hearts to know if something is right, or if it is wrong. But where does that come from? All have felt it. If you think you have not, think of a time that you have felt guilt and why. Also think of a time you have felt heavenly peace and why. Both have been caused because of an action you performed. Those feelings of knowing what is right or wrong deep within our heart is from our creator. If we did not have those feelings within, we would have no way of direction. Even if we had an open mind, would we still not be haunted by the very feelings of guilt and peace, right and wrong? There is no other choice but to turn your heart to God.

Another issue sometimes arises here. I think many people know deep down what is right in their heart, but because we are human and have the "natural man" within us, we want to do our will instead of God's (we can know his will by the feelings of right and wrong within us), and this leads us to a conflicting problem. If we have and open mind, and put off the feelings of right and wrong that God places in each and every one of us, we eventually become numb to those feelings and we lose our way chasing after our own desires. We no longer feel what is right or wrong. We can't because we openly deny those feelings and the Spirit of God. Once this happens, His spirit withdraws from us and we can no longer feel the peace that is felt when we have His Spirit. 

This is why I choose to follow the promptings of the Spirit and point my heart to God. I'm happy! I feel alive. The emotions and feelings and experiences I have when I have the Spirit with me are far greater than any amount of feelings of happiness I could feel without it. I have never been happier than when I have lived my life so I could have the Spirit dwell with me. Open your mind and point your heart to God.

Anyways, about Brandon. We showed him the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ video. He is very receptive to it. He had a great point. He said, why would Joseph Smith go through so much in his life, including murder, to lie about a book he wrote? He would be insane. He simply wouldn't have gone through all the horrible things he had to endure, nor would he let the thousands of saints go through the things they went through, unless he knew he had a mission from God to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ back on the earth in its fullness as God’s eternal truth.  He said Joseph was either, insane and cruel, or he is a prophet of God. It was a very true thing to hear. It was a great lesson. We teach him about the plan of salvation on Monday. Brandon is awesome. 

Roy: I don't think I have ever met anyone who has fallen so far off the deep end and then truly has wanted to change his life with all his being. We met with Roy last night and he told us about his family. Apparently he has 16 brothers and sisters but from all different men and women. Apparently his dad had kids with 4 or 5 people and so did his mom. He told us he made a promise to himself when he was a kid that he never wanted to be like his father.  Turns out he got a call this week from a girl he dated a long time ago who told him he had a 6 year old daughter. He was extremely surprised, but last night he was getting frustrated because he felt like he was turning into his dad. To get a picture of what Roy looks like, he's about 6 foot, 5 inches, he's from Honduras, speaks great English, slicks his hair back, and is a pretty big guy. Last night we taught him about how he can change his life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End), and he was extremely receptive to it. He honestly wants to change his life completely around 360 degrees and he is just waiting for us to help him. He has a greater desire than anyone I have ever seen. That is key - a key to life. I think humility allows us to be honest with our circumstances and with ourselves, and allows us to then truly have a desire to get better and improve ourselves. He has this because of the things he has gone through. He was telling us last night that he felt like he messed up in life with his job, his ex-wife, his kids, and overall his life. He didn't understand why he had to go through all the crazy things he has gone through. We were able to share with him that God allows things to happen to us so we can grow and learn. I asked him if he thought he would be at the point where he is at now (wanting to completely change his life around, with a humble heart filled with a vision) if he had not gone through the hard things he had to endure. He sat and thought for a while and then he said, "Wow you are right, I have never thought about that". We challenged him to be baptized and he said YES! His date is December 21st. Please pray for him that he will stay strong until that day. This truly was a miracle from God because he randomly just walked into our church one day, and now he is going to completely change his life, not just here on this earth, but for the eternities.

Anyways, this whole time we had with Roy reminded me of something I hold close to my heart. I am sure MANY of you remember our dear friend and fellow Elder, Elder Fagan who served in our church ward back in California. Well, before my mission, he and Elder Bartholomew were able to teach me about being a missionary, but truly how to be a follower of Christ. One thing he shared with me has stuck with me since. Elder Fagan wrote this to me on my mission. He said: "Welcome to the work! This is going to be the absolute BEST two years of your entire life. But, though they may be the best, they will also be some of the hardest days you'll ever have. This qualifies us for His work, and being qualified is a lot like a refiner’s fire. We are qualified and refined just like a piece of metal. We get put in the hottest parts of the flame and are held there in intense amounts of heat to burn off impurities. It takes a long time and seems tedious, but in the end the metal is stronger. It is shaped. The refiner holding the metal keeps a close eye on it so it doesn't get destroyed. And the way the refiner knows it's ready to pull it out is when he can see his image reflected in it. This applies to all of us. The Lord will refine you Elder, be sure of it. But in the end, you will reflect His countenance and I know that the Lord will qualify you."  I have felt this more on my mission, more than I have anywhere else on my entire life (going through the things I had to go through the first month and a half out here in New York), and every missionary who has served or is serving knows exactly how this feels. I have seen it within myself and within the people who go through hard things in life like Roy, but because of it begin to change - people who come close to Christ no matter how hard it is. We all will have moments where we ask ourselves how we can press on and if it's honestly even worth it.

Christ let's things happen to us to point us to him. But not just to come unto to Him, but so in a sense, we can become "little Christ's" as C.S. Lewis puts it. We go through the depths of life, so God can shape us into something greater than we could ever shape ourselves to be. With that being said, enjoy this video – The Refiner’s Fire

I love you all. Have a wide open mind, and make sure it keeps widening, but as you widen your mind, reduce the space between your heart and God. You will never be happier in your life. 


- Elder Austin Celaya

Quote of the week:  "Go in the name of the Lord, trust in the name of the Lord, lean upon the Lord, and call upon the Lord fervently and without ceasing, and pay no attention to the world. You will see plenty of the world--it will be before you all the time--but if you live so as to possess the Holy Ghost you will be able to understand more in relation to it in one day than you could in a dozen days without it, and you will at once see the difference between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God, and you can weigh things in the balance and estimate them at their true worth" - Brigham Young